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Indignation as cheap Chinese chestnuts ‘sully’ Portugal’s best

It’s not as newsworthy as global post-Brexit meltdown, but chestnut producers in Portugal’s Transmontana areas are said to be fuming.

At issue are cheap Chinese chestnuts that are ‘adulterating’ Portugal’s best.

According to national tabloid Correio da Manhã, Cacovin Agroindústria, a cooperative of farmers in Vinhais, has already been forced to ship in 1227 tons of Chinese chestnuts.

The imports are mixed with Portuguese produce, bringing both prices and quality down, says the paper.

It is a business decision – powered by Chinese-backed suppliers – that is “marked by controversy”, says CM, as producers see it as an attack on their way of life.

“We survive on the production of chestnuts,” one told the paper. “The possibility of Chinese chestnuts coming in is destroying the market and forcing quality down.”

CM explains the Chinese chestnuts come into Portugal already shelled.

Over the last two years, Cacovin has received 19 consignments from China, by way of worldwide Chinese food production group American Lorain.

Cacovin is now bound by American Lorain quotas and has to import the chestnuts, no matter whether local farmers agree to the policy, or not.

CM explains, 75% of Portugal’s chestnut production comes from the Vinhais and Bragança areas.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com